Thursday, September 10, 2009

Political Digest September 10, 2009

Health Care Reform Based On Free Markets And Competition
Excerpt: President Obama continues to portray the debate over health care reform as a choice between his plan for a massive government-takeover of the U.S. health care system and "doing nothing." Those who oppose his plan are said to be "obstructionist" or in favor of the status quo. Recently, the President again said, "I've got a question for all those folks [who oppose his plan]: What are you going to do? What's your answer? What's your solution?" The Cato Institute has a long record of supporting health care reform based on free-markets and competition. If the President wanted to know more he might have read Michael Tanner's recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times or Michael Cannon's piece in Investors Business Daily (IBD). He could have read Cato's book, "Healthy Competition." Or he might have just gone to and read their plan

The Rise of Trial Lawyer TV Ads
Excerpt: In August, former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Dr. Howard Dean made a telling statement when he answered a question at a Congressional town hall meeting about the lack of medical liability reform in the current health care reform proposals. Dean responded, "The reason that tort reform is not in the bill is because the people that wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth." According to a new study, sponsored by the Institute for Legal Reform, television advertisements soliciting plaintiffs for medical malpractice lawsuits increased from about 10,150 ads in 2004 to more than 156,000 ads in 2008 -- nearly a 1,400 percent increase in four years. The study showed that spending for these ads increased from $3.8 million to nearly $62 million during this time period -- a 1,300 percent increase in 2008-adjusted dollars.

Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care
Excerpt: Instead of poll-driven "solutions," let's talk about real health-care reform: market-oriented, patient-centered, and result-driven. As the Cato Institute's Michael Cannon and others have argued, such policies include giving all individuals the same tax benefits received by those who get coverage through their employers; providing Medicare recipients with vouchers that allow them to purchase their own coverage; reforming tort laws to potentially save billions each year in wasteful spending; and changing costly state regulations to allow people to buy insurance across state lines. Rather than another top-down government plan, let's give Americans control over their own health care.

Blue Dog Ross Comes Out Against Public Option
Excerpt: Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), the Blue Dog congressman who battled with Democratic Party leaders for much of July before reaching an agreement on health-care reform legislation, said Tuesday that he could no longer back the government-insurance option included in the bill he voted for before the congressional recess. "I have been skeptical about the public health insurance option from the beginning and used August to get feedback from you, my constituents," he wrote in a statement his office released publicly. "An overwhelming number of you oppose a government-run health insurance option, and it is your feedback that has led me to oppose the public option as well." While no other members of the Blue Dog Coalition signed the statement, Ross' comments could be the first sign of hardening opposition to the public option among the Blue Dogs, a group of 52 conservative House Democrats, many of whom represent districts President Obama lost last year. Before the recess, the group had been divided on the public option, but Ross has been one of its leaders on health care issues, forcing House Democratic leaders to make a number of changes to the bill before it passed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Too late for Obama to turn it around? (an interesting read!)
Excerpt: What a difference a month makes! When my last controversial column posted on Salon in the second week of August, most Democrats seemed frozen in suspended animation, not daring to criticize the Obama administration's bungling of healthcare reform lest it give aid and comfort to the GOP. Well, that ice dam sure broke with a roar. Dissident Democrats found their voices, and by late August even the liberal lemmings of the mainstream media, from CBS to CNN, had drastically altered their tone of reportage, from priggish disdain of the town hall insurgency to frank admission of serious problems in the healthcare bills as well as of Obama's declining national support. But this tonic dose of truth-telling may be too little too late. As an Obama supporter and contributor, I am outraged at the slowness with which the standing army of Democratic consultants and commentators publicly expressed discontent with the administration's strategic missteps this year…. By foolishly trying to reduce all objections to healthcare reform to the malevolence of obstructionist Republicans, Democrats have managed to destroy the national coalition that elected Obama and that is unlikely to be repaired. If Obama fails to win reelection, let the blame be first laid at the door of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who at a pivotal point threw gasoline on the flames by comparing angry American citizens to Nazis. It is theoretically possible that Obama could turn the situation around with a strong speech on healthcare to Congress this week, but after a summer of grisly hemorrhaging, too much damage has been done. At this point, Democrats' main hope for the 2012 presidential election is that Republicans nominate another hopelessly feeble candidate. Given the GOP's facility for shooting itself in the foot, that may well happen.

Fines proposed for going without health insurance
Excerpt: Americans would be fined up to $3,800 for failing to buy health insurance under a plan that circulated in Congress on Tuesday as divisions among Democrats undercut President Barack Obama's effort to regain traction on his health care overhaul. As Obama talked strategy with Democratic leaders at the White House, the one idea that most appeals to his party's liberal base lost ground in Congress. Prospects for a government-run plan to compete with private insurers sank as a leading moderate Democrat said he could no longer support the idea. The fast-moving developments put Obama in a box. As a candidate, he opposed fines to force individuals to buy health insurance, and he supported setting up a public insurance plan. On Tuesday, fellow Democrats publicly begged to differ on both ideas.

Matt Yglesias, for one, welcomes our new HMO overlords
Excerpt: This moment in the health-care reform debate shows just how corporate welfare happens: Big Government forces rally behind proposals to curb the excesses of Big Business, Congress gets ahold of the proposals, lobbyists get ahold of Congress, and what comes out the rear end is a Big Business-Big Government collusion that crushes smaller competitors, leads to higher taxes, and typically raises costs.

Is that lame duck I smell?
New blog—no relation.

"On the issue of the 'public option' here's my suggestion: Every Republican Member of the House and Senate should commit to supporting an amendment to whatever bill comes to the floor stating, in essence, 'All civilian Federal employees shall be covered by the 'public option' because it is such a good idea.' See how Pelosi likes that." --political analyst Rich Galen. "The Patriot Post ("

Valerie Jarrett's Show
Excerpt: The White House shouldn't expect the furor over Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality Van Jones to go away just because he's resigned, says a former Obama Administration transition team member, because "the same problems that they created with Jones's hiring are there for others and they don't seem to care about the political damage these people may inflict." According to several White House sources, Jones was hired for his "green jobs czar" positions over concerns raised by the White House Counsel's Office, after Jones's background materials came back with several of what were termed "inconsistencies" in the Standard Form 86 Questionnaire for National Security Positions. When confronted with the 2004 9/11 truther petition by the White House communications staff, Jones, according to sources, initially blamed his staff at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The petition was spun by the White House as Jones simply not having read the material closely. Within an hour of the White House statement with Jones's apology, another document came to light indicating that Jones had helped organize a 2002 truther protest march in San Francisco. Jones, according to White House sources, denied any involvement. "It's clear we [the White House] don't know enough about him," said a White House source in the Counsel's office, who spoke on Saturday morning before Jones resigned, and did so anonymously in the hopes that information about concerns raised by the counsel's office about Jones might push him out of the Administration.

Brit commando killed rescuing reporter
Feels like a bad trade.

U.S. 'Unlikely' to Recoup Auto Outlay, Panel Finds
Treasury Urged to Be More Transparent
Excerpt: The federal government is unlikely to recoup all of the billions of dollars that it has invested in General Motors and Chrysler, according to a new congressional oversight report assessing the automakers' rescue. The report said that a $5.4 billion portion of the $10.5 billion owed by Chrysler is "highly unlikely" to be repaid, while full recovery of the $50 billion sunk into GM would require the company's stock to reach unprecedented heights. (Surprise, surprise, surprise.)

Pakistani Scientist Cites Help to Iran
Official Aid for Nuclear Program Claimed
Excerpt: The creator of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program boasted in a recent television interview that he and other senior Pakistani officials, eager to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, years ago guided that country to a proven network of suppliers and helped advance its covert efforts. (Surprise, surprise, surprise.)

U.S. Learned Its Lesson, Won't Abandon Afghanistan, Gates Says
You can count on us—just ask the South Vietnamese, to whom we promised the same thing.

Somali jihadists: "We lost a martyr who was from Minnesota in the overnight raid"
Excerpt: Fierce fighting exploded in this capital city on Friday night and Saturday morning, and witnesses said at least 10 people had been killed in the past two days, possibly including a Somali-American who had joined the insurgents.

Boren says Congress should push for removal of unconfirmed "czars"
Excerpt: U.S. Rep. Dan Boren said Congress should use the power of the purse to push the Obama administration to remove so-called czars that do not go through a confirmation process. Responding to questions during a telephonic town hall, the Oklahoma Democrat said he was glad Van Jones, who resigned over the weekend as controversy continued to build over past statements, has left his post. Boren joined others in criticizing the growing trend to name czars to lead efforts in specific areas. Such officials do not go through oversight hearings or a confirmation vote in the Senate.

Sex Assault Conviction Dies with the Accused
Excerpt: The sexual assault conviction of a well-known civil rights leader is about to be erased from the books because of a little-known aspect of criminal law -- and the man's death. The man is James L. Bevel, a 71-year-old former Loudoun County resident. He died last December, two months after a judge imposed a 15-year sentence for repeatedly having sex with his daughter, but also after his attorney had filed an appeal. The law in federal court, and most states, is clear: If a defendant dies while his appeal is pending, the entire case is dismissed as if it had never happened. (Tell the daughter, “All better now!”)

Cook, Rothenberg See Political Environment Shift
Excerpt: Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg, the two most influential political handicappers in Washington, have both written in recent days of a shift toward Republicans in the national political environment as both parties gear up for the 2010 midterm elections.

Louisiana's Boustany to Give GOP Rebuttal
Excerpt: Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a heart surgeon who has been in Congress since 2005, has been tapped by GOP leaders to give the response to President Obama's speech on Wednesday night. Boustany is a somewhat surprising pick in that he is little-known nationally and not part of the Republican leadership in Congress. But the GOP hopes to lend credibility to their criticisms of Obama's health care proposals by touting the opposition of several of the Republican doctors in Congress, including Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who are hosting a weekly web talk show in which they read questions that are e-mailed to them and take turns answering questions in ways that promote more conservative views on health care.

The Obama Experiment
Good GOP Ad.

Funny satire from both sides

Why does Michael Obama hate farmers?

U.S. Government Unveils Health Care Partnership With God Inc.

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